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Comment Period Open for Changes in Ag Worker Protection Standard

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced proposed changes to the agricultural Worker Protection Standard (WPS). The purpose is to improve protection from pesticide exposure for the country’s two million agricultural workers and their families.


EPA is currently taking comments on the proposed changes. The comment period ends June 17, 2014.  These remarks will assist EPA officials develop the final version of this regulation.

Proposed changes to the Agricultural Worker Protection Standard include increased frequency of mandatory trainings to an annual basis. Currently the requirement is for training once every five years.

The classes inform farm workers about the protections afforded under the law, including restrictions on entering pesticide-treated fields and surrounding areas, decontamination supplies, access to information and use of personal protective equipment. Expanded trainings will include instructions to reduce take-home exposure from pesticides on work clothing and other safety topics.

There is a first time-ever minimum age requirement for working with these farm chemicals. Children, those workers under 16 years of age, will be prohibited from handling pesticides. There is an exemption for family farms.

The new measures will strengthen the states’ ability to enforce compliance. This includes requiring employers to keep records of application-specific pesticide information, as well as farmworker training and early-entry notification, for two years.

The proposed changes make available to farm workers or their advocates, including medical personnel, information specific to the pesticide application. This includes the pesticide label and Safety Data Sheets.

Under the proposed changes, Personal Protection Equipment (respirator use) must be consistent with the Occupational Safety & Health Administration standards. This ensures respirators are providing protection, including fit test, medical evaluation, and training.

The proposal also expands mandatory posting of no-entry signs for the most hazardous pesticides. The signs prohibit entry into pesticide-treated fields until residues decline to a safe level.

A no-entry buffer area surrounding pesticide-treated fields has been added in these proposed changes. It is included to protect workers and others from exposure from pesticide overspray and fumes.

How to submit your comments:

Comments can be submitted at http://www.regulations.gov identified by docket number EPA-HQ-OPP-2011-0184.

Comments may be mailed to: OPP Docket, Environmental Protection Agency Docket Center (EPA/DC), Mail code: 28221T, 1200 Pennsylvania Ave., NW, Washington, DC 20460.

In addition, mail a copy of your comments about the information collection provisions to the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, Office of Management and Budget, Attn: Desk Officer for EPA, 725 17th St., NW, Washington, DC 20503.

For additional information please visit the following webpage: Worker Protection Standard (WPS)



Author: Les Harrison – harrisog@ufl.edu

Les Harrison is the UF/IFAS Wakulla County Extension Director. He began his work in the Northwest Extension District as the Sustainable Agriculture and Extension Technology Agent in Leon County on August 25, 2006. His career in agriculture extends back over thirty five years and includes work in business, government and academic positions. Prior to working with the Extension Service, he spent 16 years with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services in the Division of Marketing and Development. He worked in four of the division’s six bureaus. He has also managed farm supply cooperatives in Alabama and Virginia with annual sales over four million dollars, worked for an international grain company, and was a research associate for Auburn University’s Agricultural Economics Department. He has a Master’s of Science Degree in Agricultural Economics from Auburn University and a Bachelor of Science Degree in Journalism from the University of Florida. He is the author of over 500 publications and has written professionally for print, electronic and broadcast media.

Les Harrison

Permanent link to this article: http://okaloosa.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2014/05/10/comment-period-open-for-changes-in-ag-worker-protection-standard/